October 1, 2014

Temporary Blindness

wrote this essay as my "fear anecdote" for my AP Lang class and I got a full score ;) pretty proud of what I wrote, so I thought I'd share it :):
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Human eyes are not designed to see clearly underwater. However, the unnatural sensation of seeing underwater becomes even more difficult when you are nearsighted, when you are required to retrieve a ten pound brick submerged in a fourteen feet deep pool, and when you are expected to swim back to the edge of the pool and get out, all under 100 seconds. Without goggles, too. I cursed myself for having volunteered to be in the first group; after swimming 12 lengths and treading water, I did not have the physical capacity to complete this task. I resolved my physical exhaustion by strategically positioning myself to be the last in the group to go. Droplets streaked down my face. If it is possible to sweat under water, I was.
I carefully observed the others around me, one by one, get into the pool and finish the last portion of the lifeguarding pre-test. Some were nonchalant when they were told that goggles are not allowed. They were the “re-certs”, mostly in their early twenties and looked fit enough to join the marines. Others, like me, small and weak, lacked their confidence, and scrutinized the test proctor as she dropped the brick. I mentally recorded the average location of where the brick was dropped each time, hoping that foresight would compromise my impaired vision.
A brick dropped in my stomach as the last person before me got out of the pool. I dragged myself into the pool, leaving my prescription goggles --- the key to success --- behind. The proctor dropped the brick. I waited for it to sink, and made a mental note of the approximate location. My knees wobbled. My heart raced. Anticipation pounded against my skull. The chill of the water crept up my spine. The timer started. I kicked off the wall, ducked my head under the water, which most likely compromised a 90-10 mixture of chlorinated water and my sweat, and began a steady breaststroke. I forced my eyes open to adjust to the unnatural conditions, but violent bubbles, the byproduct of others swimming, obscured my vision. Adrenaline rushed through me. Tick, tock, tick, tock. I scanned the pool floor. The black brick camouflaged with the black lane lines on the floor and I was nearly blind. Do I go down? I thought about it. Tick, tock, tick, tock. I don’t have time to think.
In a split second, I compulsively pushed myself up to gain momentum, and propelled myself underwater, feet first. I forced my arms to launch me downwards by making snow angel motions. I  then noticed the aching of my lungs. My impaired vision compromised my speed, and my oxygen levels was dangerously close to zero. I was Sandra Bullock in Gravity...only I was underwater and not in a movie. I frantically paddled my way back up to the surface, which seemed much farther away going up. My face broke the surface. I gasped. My lungs expanded and contracted as if it were a paper bag that someone was using to control hyperventilation. The buzz from the pool deck reminded me of the ticking of the clock. The brick still remained somewhere, fourteen feet away. I knew that my lungs were weak, and my debilitated eyes would not help with my speed. No time to think. I chose to risk drowning over failing the test. I was surrounded by potential lifeguards anyways.
Once more, I compulsively dove underwater. This time, head first. You’re a mermaid. You can breathe underwater. This is your natural habitat. Your lungs don’t hurt. Your ears aren’t popping. Swim towards your grotto; Sebastian and Flounder are waiting with your trinket.
The further I went towards the floor, the darker and darker it got. The aqua blue became a midnight blue. I could barely make out a black lump, sitting on the edge of a lane line. As I leaned forward to reach for it, time slowed down. My fingers wavered as I stretched my hand out to grab the brick. My fingers curled around it; my feet touched the floor. The weight of the brick sunk in my hands. With no time to think, my instincts kicked in. My lungs on the verge of exploding, my cheeks sore from holding my breath. The mental ticking of a clock resumed. I kicked off of the floor, expecting to launch towards the surface like a rocket. I didn’t. Like a prisoner, my hands were chained to a metal ball, the brick. Like a squid, I inched towards the top, kicking like a frog to propel myself.
An inch before I reached the surface, my mouth fell open in preparation to maintain survival. My hand broke the surface, and I pushed myself up, gasping, once more, for air. I heaved the brick onto my chest, and clutched it tightly with both hands. The adrenaline continued to rush through me. My legs flailed frantically. Water lapped over my eyes. I resumed my agonal gasps. I felt my hands slipping from the brick as I laid on my back and kicked towards the edge of the pool where I had started. The brick inched closer and closer to my neck as I forcefully fought the debilitating effects of its weight. Tick, tock, tick, tock. My legs resumed a backwards frog kick, slowly inching me towards the starting point. I looked up longingly, anticipating the flags located near the edge of the pool.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the pool ladder, and I leaned up, off of my back. Tick, tock, tick, tock. 

I threw the brick onto the pool deck and heaved myself out of the pool. The ticking stopped. “Good job, you 

passed…”. The rest of the proctor’s words went through my ear. Trumpets sounded in my ears. I was done. I 

grabbed my goggles from the pool deck, and clutched it tightly, vowing to never part it ever again.




xoxo, Hannah

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